Re: National Website
(no name) ((no email))
Fri, 12 Jul 1996 14:16:09 -0500
Dave Hultberg wrote to my response to Dave Rogers:
>The paradigm has shifted and the old
>style rigid "chain of command" flow of information isn't good enough
I agree with you, but as with so many things, the BSA is
still trying to "keep itself" back in the 50s and 60s by their actions.
Not really the actions of the National Executive Board, but rather
of the senior, longtime, professional members of the National
Staff. While some are Internet-savvy, the vast majority wants to
keep things the "way they have always operated" and the way
that is, is through paper correspondence and directed communication
to the Regions, and then via the Regions to each and every local
Your example of how the Navy is using internet-related tools to
get and give, and to share information is the same kind of things
that most of "big business" is doing as well....only thing, the BSA
considers itself not a big business but rather "the leading non-profit
youth program in the nation".
>This same model would work for the BSA. All of the council offices
>could be linked to the regional offices and national over the internet.
There is a email network already in existance between the local Councils
and the National office, but it's not used very much very well. The four
Regions, the national supply distribution center, and the National
professional training center in Arlington, Texas, are all included in this
Just that we volunteers and others aren't included in this loop.
>Public data could be made available via webservers and other data could
>be distributed over an internal intranet server. Both services actually
>use the internet as the transport mechanism, but only properly
>authenticated users have access to the intranet servers. Instead of the
>expense of sending pouches of paper from national to over three hundred
>local councils, it could be sent via email or downloaded by the local
>councils from the national server.
I love it!! Unfortunately, those "Council pouches" have a lot of history
associated with them, and National is rather reluctant to give it up easily
even for the cost benefit it will effect! The pouches also contain insignia
and certificates which are presented to Scouters and Scouts in the local
Council, which would be hard to reproduce and electronically provide.
Finally, those pouches also contain slips of paper from the three publications
in response to national program (like Jamboree requests or NOAC
participation requests) which are forwarded to the local Council for action.
>I have heard enough stories as I'm sure you have, of professionals who
>"forget" to pass on information that national intended to go out to the
>volunteers. Information is power and unfortunately, sometimes the SE or
>DE withhold information from the volunteers.
Which is exactly why the national end of the BSA is rather fearful of this
"internet" thing -- it will force them to acknowledge some key facts about
their existing paper literature: its very subjective, leaving many of the
details as to how the policies/procedures are to be implemented to 300+
local locations; it is contradictory, because you will have in many times
two or three different publications with two or three different sets of
"instructions" or "guidance" on a specific topic; and in a lot of cases, a
lot of the material can open up or have the potential to open up issues
of judgement and in some extreme cases, lawsuits over fairness and equity
(as well as other issues).
>There is no way the
>Scouting, Boys Life and Exploring can publish all of the news coming out
>of national. They also can't afford to allocate enough space to
>thoroughly explain the policies they announce.
Which is why in a great part, they only announce the policy and leave
it to the Councils to implement it. Some Councils "get it right" the first time
and others take some time in order to research it and get the right combination
to make the decision. Others simply ignore it until someone either brings
it up to their attention in which they make a run for the garbage can or the
fax machine to get another copy; or crosses their fingers, toes and other
items, and hopes that NOBODY brings it up (and in a lot of rural areas, they
There's not a whole lot of "news" that comes from National anyways. Most
of it is highly administrative in nature (the appointment of one professional
to oversea another; new staff reorganizations; the completion of a paper by
a candidate for the Professional Circle Training Award; survey results;
announcements of Quality Councils and Regions; and the like) and not of
interest to anyone except a few professionals and even fewer volunteers.
When something does get announced, your Council Scout Executive normally
gets a "heads up" through ProSpeak anyway, and before that, he or she gets
a fax or is talked about it when the Area Director or Associate Area Director
comes strolling into town. When it's announced in ProSpeak, many Councils
do a "clip and paste" from the publication and place it in their Council
newsletter. By that time, they have had some time to think about how their
Council is going to implement the new "thing".
>A lot of BSA publications, especially the free ones, if made avaiable on
>a web or ftp server could cut down the workload of the overburdened
>staff of the council office, freeing up time to actually work on
>programs instead of distributing paper. Units with internet connections
>could submit advancement data to the council office via thee net and
>with proper authentication download updated reports on their units.
I agree with you on the "free publications". There's a lot of stuff that can
be of much use in research or program development at the Council/District/
unit level which can be made available via a web page. Some of us are
doing this now, with mixed results. Text stuff isn't as glamourous as
flashing rotating graphics in 14 colors with a video and graphics links.
The problem with authentication, Dave, as we both know, is of security.
The BSA, being a volunteer program, can't really rely on a single volunteer
to constantly be "the person doing the input" as far as advancement
reports are concerned. We change jobs, according to the BSA, once
every 8 months on the average, and when the advancement
committeemember changes, he or she takes the "code" to the next job.
Then, we have this problem of "inflating the reports"electronically
as we can do it with paper. I think that it would mean just as much work
for the Council's Registrar and other employees are is it with the present
And what about units that don't have internet connections? Are those
units considered "slower" or "lesser" than the ones that are making the
>I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. As BSA downsizes
>like we are doing in government and industry, automation and electronic
>communications are essential to keep delivering the program to our
>Scouts and Scouters.
I agree with you, Dave....but of course, I'm just me..but as I wrote earlier:
>>However, as I've written here several times in the past, technology has a way
>>of clubbing even the BSA over the head, and therefore the BSA had to do
>>something to at least "try and keep up".
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